• Michael Laxer

Celebrate the CPC and its 101 years

Photo from celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the party

On the 101st anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) -- the party that has led the most successful revolutionary socialist regime in the history of the world -- it is important as internationalist leftists to try to understand the complexities and dynamism of Marxism-Leninism and Maoism in action in the People's Republic.

The 101 years of the CPC is, by any objective standards, a history of astonishing achievement. It is hard to understand how anyone could debate that but a surprising number of western leftists do and one has to think this is almost entirely based on racism.

The party also now has a staggering 96.7 million members, A stunning tribute to its success.

This is not to say that the CPC or PRC are not deserving of critique. Of course they are.

But the simplistic, false, western caricature of of the CPC and PRC is typical of what Roland Boer called the "Unbearable Romanticism of Western Marxism".

There has never been a revolution in the history of the world that transformed lives in a more positive way overall than the Chinese revolution given the tragic collapse of Soviet socialism. It was a victory for the Chinese people and the world.

As Boer said:

"Through increasing visits to China, to teach, travel and engage in endless discussions with Marxists, I have found most of my preconceptions thoroughly dismissed and utterly complexified. Slowly, I began to share the sense of my Chinese interlocutors that Western Marxist engagements with China were wanting in sophistication. So I contacted the organisers of an energetic annual conference, a vibrant journal and book series — Historical Materialism. The idea was to arrange for a panel or two on ‘Communism in China Today’ at a couple of conferences. We would gather some Chinese experts who would engage in detailed debate concerning Marxism in China.

The response was disappointing and predictable: ‘Is China really communist anymore?’ ‘Are there any Marxists left in China?’ ‘If so, they do not know what they are talking about’. ‘What about freedom, democracy, workers?’ To the suggestion of a conference panel I received a flat ‘no’, dismissing Marxism in China as at least unsophisticated, if not having betrayed some impossible ideal. I had thought the Historical Materialism people would be more open to a vigorous debate, one that explored issues in a manner that would move past such preconceptions. Yet, this response was also predictable, for I have encountered similar responses from one Western Marxist after another: China is not really communist, so it is not worth considering. Sometimes my interlocutor will suggest that China is ‘evil’, that it is out for world domination, that we need to fear the Chinese Empire. If I press further, my interlocutor will refer to an article in the Washington Post, the New York Times or another Western newspaper as ‘evidence’. And if I refer to a Chinese source, it is dismissed as tainted or unreliable. On such matters, these Western Marxists are no different from bourgeois critics of China."

And, as Michael Parenti said in his incredible essay Left Anticommunism: the unkindest cut:

"But a real socialism, it is argued, would be controlled by the workers themselves through direct participation instead of being run by Leninists, Stalinists, Castroites, or other ill-willed, power-hungry, bureaucratic, cabals of evil men who betray revolutions. Unfortunately, this “pure socialism” view is ahistorical and nonfalsifiable; it cannot be tested against the actualities of history. It compares an ideal against an imperfect reality, and the reality comes off a poor second. It imagines what socialism would be like in a world far better than this one, where no strong state structure or security force is required, where none of the value produced by workers needs to be expropriated to rebuild society and defend it from invasion and internal sabotage.

The pure socialists’ ideological anticipations remain untainted by existing practice. They do not explain how the manifold functions of a revolutionary society would be organized, how external attack and internal sabotage would be thwarted, how bureaucracy would be avoided, scarce resources allocated, policy differences settled, priorities set, and production and distribution conducted. Instead, they offer vague statements about how the workers themselves will directly own and control the means of production and will arrive at their own solutions through creative struggle. No surprise then that the pure socialists support every revolution except the ones that succeed."

Congratulations to the Chinese people and the Communist Party of China on 101 years of incredible growth and victories.

Some western leftists have learned nothing from the collapse of the USSR and continue to act as useful ideologues for the racist campaign for a new Cold War.